tumblr_m9hyrt9EFA1qfwde8o4_500tumblr_m9hyrt9EFA1qfwde8o3_500tumblr_m9hyrt9EFA1qfwde8o2_500tumblr_m9hyrt9EFA1qfwde8o1_500

Images via Gysahl Greens Tumblr

Yesterday, Final Fantasy VI (affectionately, and confusingly known as Final Fantasy 3 when it was first released in North America) turn 20 years old. The series changed significantly in the years that followed, so it’s fun to look back at this classic game and remember the impact it had on an entire generation of gamers.

Here’s a little bit of trivia: Scott Lynch named Locke Lamora, protagonist of his popular Gentleman Bastards series, after Locke Cole, one of the central characters in Final Fantasy VI!

What is your favourite memory from Final Fantasy VI?

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: Tor Books - Pages: 1008 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Just one look at the cover of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings tells you everything you need to know about it. If you’re a fantasy virgin, a passerby in the grocery store, you can tell that it’s about knights and vivid fantastical set pieces. If you’re a long entrenched fantasy reader, you can see that, for all of publisher Tor Books’ will to make it so, the first volume of Brandon Sanderon’s The Stormlight Archives is the “next big fantasy, ” the heir apparent to Robert Jordan’s legendary and flawed opus, the Wheel of Time.

The Way of Kings is big. Thunderously huge. Sanderson might be best known for his work completing the late Robert Jordan’s series, but before that he was known to fantasy fans as one of the more exciting upcoming epic fantasists. His most popular work up to that point was the Mistborn trilogy, a self-contained series that, while applaudable for Sanderson’s eagerness to develop fascinating magic systems, suffered from poor pacing and bloat in both the second and third volumes. The longest of those volumes was two-thirds the length of The Way of Kings, the shortest about half.

Most writers are expected to write an epic fantasy in less than 200,000 words, The Way of Kings flirts with 400,000.

Since then, Sanderson’s star has risen to heights reached by few other working fantasy authors, and as a result the editorial department at Tor has slackened their reins, hoping to nurture the novelist as he attempts to fill the enormous hole left by Jordan’s passing. Even in the early pages The Way of Kings, while Sanderson is busy introducing readers to fallen gods, it’s easy to recognize his excitement at being given the reins to write an epic fantasy in the vein of Jordan, et al. Most writers are expected to write an epic fantasy in less than 200,000 words, yet The Way of Kings flirts with 400,000. Though this immense privilege and freedom for Sanderson’s ambitions hurts the novel, it also allows for a refreshing boldness and scope that the genre has been missing since the completion of the Wheel of Time and Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. Read More »

tale-of-genji

A young man of surpassing beauty who rises to a political and romantic career of power and renown mixed with disappointment, betrayal, and demonic possession.  Also, he glows.

A minor noblewoman has a tragic love affair with an emperor.  She dies, leaving behind her child — a young man of surpassing beauty who rises to a political and romantic career of power and renown mixed with disappointment, betrayal, and demonic possession.  Also, he glows.

Welcome to the Tale of Genji, the Japanese story of romance, ghosts, poetry, and politics that has a good claim of being the world’s first novel. To clarify: Genji is a work of prose, not epic poetry, and written in the vernacular rather than the local courtly language (which, in early 11th century Heian Japan, would have been Chinese).  It’s also, as far as we can tell, original, without folkloric or legendary precursor.  The author, Lady Murusaki Shikibu, wove her hero and his, um, exploits out of whole cloth.  And, while many other works deal with mythological high society—gods and demons and so forth—Murusaki seems to have cared a great deal about representing (idealistically but still) her social reality.  Genji Monogatari is a work of beauty and passion and (to modern sensibilities) occasional utter weirdness, in which twenty chapters of plot turn on the accidental glimpse of one character by another through a paper screen, astrological prohibitions on travel are used to justify spending the night at a prospective lover’s house, titles take the place of names, violence is anathema, and a twenty-mile exile is worse than death. Read More »

Speculative Fiction 2013, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James

With the release of Speculative Fiction 2013 looming, editors Ana Grilo and Thea James have announced the duo responsible for assembling the 2014 volume of the non-fiction essay collection: Renay and Shaun Duke. Excellent choices, if I do say.

One of the major components to the SpecFic collection series, as originally envisioned by creators Justin Landon and Jared Shurin, was to ensure a fresh take on online SFF conversation by featuring rotating editors every year. Renay and Duke mark the third pair of editors to work on the series. Grilo and James feel that their unique backgrounds offer a compelling opportunity for the series. “We strongly believe that Renay and Shaun’s different backgrounds – fandom and academia – can make for a really interesting editorial dynamic,” they said in the announcement.

Renay has been writing SF and fantasy fan fiction, criticism, and commentary since the early 1990s. She serves as staff within the Organization for Transformative Works, co-edits a media criticism blog, Lady Business, and writes columns for speculative fiction magazine Strange Horizons.

Shaun Duke is an SF/F writer, a critic, and a PhD. student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, Caribbean literature, and postcolonialism. He currently blogs at The World in the Satin Bag, and is a host on The Skiffy and Fanty Show, an SF/F podcast which is currently running its World SF Tour.

“We selected Renay and Shaun as editors for several reasons that go beyond their awesome bios,” said The Book Smugglers, editors of the 2013 volume. “Namely, we admire their writing and the thoughtful ways that they engage with the speculative fiction community. We’ve been following Renay’s online endeavors for years and it’s safe to say that she’s been an incredible source of inspiration for The Book Smugglers and the way we engage in criticism. Similarly, Shaun never fails to impress us with his thoughtful, well-researched and articulate take on SFF books, films, and his contributions to important SFF community discussions.”

Game of Thrones portraits by Olly Moss

Has death and destruction ever been so cherubic? These men of Westeros are another reason that I think Olly Moss deserves a spot on this year’s Hugo ballot.

Olly Moss is an English artist known for his inventive re-imaginings of famous movie posters, and his involvement with Campo Santo, a videogame development studio whose first game, Firewatch, was recently announced.